In Issue 8's podcast, Rhys recommended a debut collection that interrogates the very idea of masculinity, Adam chose to highlight a new novel by a Faber poet, Richard suggested a modern morality cycle with an everyman figure at its centre, and our guest clare e. potter praised an artful and expansive collection from a newly-revived author.
physical – Andrew McMillan
Jonathan Cape, 2015
Winner of the 2015 Guardian First Book Award, Andrew McMillan’s debut poetry collection physical confronts what it is to be a man, and interrogates the very idea of masculinity. Raw and urgent, these poems are hymns to the male body – to male friendship and male love – muscular, sometimes shocking, but always deeply moving.
McMillan is an elegant stylist and an unfashionably honest poet. Dispensing with conventional punctuation, he is attentive and alert to the quality of breathing, giving his poems an extraordinary sense of being vividly poised and present – drawing lines that are deft, lyrical and perfectly pitched from a world of urban dereliction.
physical is available to buy from penguin.co.uk
The Adulterants – Joe Dunthorne
Hamish Hamilton, 2018
Joe Dunthorne’s The Adulterants is an uproarious tale of competitively sensitive men and catastrophic open marriages, riots on the streets of London and Internet righteousness, and one man's valiant quest to come of age in his thirties.
Fresh, sharp and wickedly funny, The Adulterants is Dunthorne's third novel, following Submarine (2008) and Wild Abandon (2011). His first full-length poetry collection will be published by Faber and Faber in 2019.
The Adulterants is available to buy from penguin.co.uk
Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides – Stephen Dobyns
A modern morality cycle with an everyman figure named Heart at its centre, Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides takes the form of sixty-one episodic poems. Throughout the collection, Heart – who “comes to resemble Charlie Brown as seen by Charles Bukowski” – is foiled repeatedly in his quest for happiness.
Dobyns’ poetry employs extended tropes, using the ridiculous and the absurd as vehicles to introduce more profound meditations on life, love, and art. Originally published by Penguin in 1999, Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides is Dobyn’s tenth collection of poems. A later edition was published by Bloodaxe Books.
Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides is now out of print, but you can still pick up a second-hand copy at worldofbooks.com
Sax Burglar Blues – Robert Walton
Seren Books, 2017
The poems in Robert Walton’s Sax Burglar Blues are clever and keenly observed, ranging from vivid memories of youth to pointed satire. In the title poem, the pleasing complexity of jazz mirrors the poet’s vocation to embody, echo and reverberate the complexities of lived experience.
As befits a poet born and based on the Severn Estuary, Walton’s land and townscapes are often damp, misty, watery, and recorded with many subtle variations of blue. There are also pleasingly unlikely totem animals, a nod to the mythical man-eating crocodile that infests Bristol Docks, and the surreal lampoon of a canary’s presidential candidacy. Artful and expansive, this is a stunning collection from a newly-revived author.
Sax Burglar Blues is available to buy from serenbooks.com
To hear what we said about these books in the 'What We're Reading' segment of the Issue 8 podcast, go here: crunchpoetry.com/issue-8.html